Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Semester of Color

Ellen in cool light
Ellen in warm light

For the past three years I've been teaching a class in portrait painting at the Wayne Art Center. This class has been rewarding in so many ways. When I was in my twenties I never imagined that I would like teaching, and I couldn't understand how my parents, both architects, could enjoy it so much. But my attitude gradually changed. I began to take on private students, then a friend asked me to take over his portrait class, and the rest is history.

I have a wonderful group of students (some of whom are professional artists) who ask such great questions. Last spring I noticed they were asking a lot about color, so I decided to devote a few classes to painting with a limited palette. The few classes turned into a whole semester of painting with six colors--two reds, two yellows and two blues, plus white--and it has been a real learning experience for me as well, since I normally paint with lots of colors on my palette.

Our last exercise was to paint the same model twice, once in warm light and once in cool light. My friend Ellen Cooper, a portrait painter, posed for us. I was able to do very quick oil sketches of her in each light. At the end of the class we all compared our paintings in warm and cool light, and the results were exciting.